Pichai says Google ‘pro-competitive,’ sees vibrant tech market citing top rivals

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Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google parent Alphabet Inc., defended the internet-search giant against claims that it is anticompetitive, citing established rivals in the digital advertising market and upstart mobile app TikTok as examples of robust competition in technology.

Pichai made the remarks late on Tuesday at the Code Conference in Los Angeles. He said the company is “pro-competitive” and named companies including Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. as competitors in the advertising business and TikTok as a rival in the video space. He said that YouTube Shorts, Google’s TikTok competitor, is off to a “great start.”

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“Competition in tech is hyper-intense,” Pichai said. The rise of TikTok “shows there is competition in the space” and “how vibrant this market is compared to years past.”

The US Justice Department sued Google in 2020, alleging the company dominates the search market in violation of antitrust laws. The company is the most popular search engine and only has limited competition in that business from Microsoft Bing and Yahoo Search. The DOJ is also preparing to sue Google on claims it illegally dominates the digital advertising market, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg last month.

“Do I wake up and worry about all the stuff that’s coming down?,” Pichai said on Tuesday. “Absolutely.”

Still, he said, “my guidance to our teams is to be respectful and engage the way we have in Europe” and “engage constructively through the process.”

In response to an audience question about the fees Google pays Apple to be the default search engine in the Safari web browser across iPhones, iPads and Macs, Pichai said the deal is a “standard one,” and the company competed with others for the deal.

Pichai also said Google would continue to pursue acquisitions that make sense for the company. He cited Google’s purchase of Fitbit and noted that the technology it gained will power Google’s upcoming Pixel Watch, which he wore on stage.

While Pichai said Google didn’t consider buying Twitter Inc. earlier this year amid the social network’s talks with Elon Musk, he declined to comment on interest in taking over Pinterest Inc.

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